'Terrorist' ex-GCHQ worker who stormed car park armed with two knives in failed bid to stab US spy to death is caged | The Sun

'Terrorist' ex-GCHQ worker who stormed car park armed with two knives in failed bid to stab US spy to death is caged | The Sun

October 30, 2023

A FORMER GCHQ worker who stormed a car park armed with two knives and stabbed a US spy in a "politically-motivated" attack has been jailed.

Joshua Bowles, 29, punched and stabbed the woman at a leisure centre around three miles from the agency's Cheltenham base.

She was rushed to hospital with serious injuries – including a stab wound to her abdomen, which pierced her liver, along with another wound in the leg and one in her chest.

Bowles also punched a man, Alex Fuentes, who had confronted him in the car park over the horror on March 9.

After he was arrested, he told officers: "I make a pretty s**t terrorist, don't I?"

He has now been jailed for 13 years after pleading guilty to attempted murder and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

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Sentencing, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said it was a "politically motivated attack" driven by "anger and resentment" towards GCHQ and women.

The Old Bailey heard Bowles travelled to the leisure centre with two knives to attack the woman, who is referred to by the code number "99230".

He had worked at GCHQ at the same time as the woman, who was employed by the US National Security Agency.

Bowles targeted her specifically because in his mind she "represents the state", it was said.

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He carried out research into the victim before the horror and discovered she played netball at the leisure centre.

Bowles also conducted reconnaissance missions a month before the attack, including "dummy runs" to the leisure centre.

On March 9, he lay in wait in the car park for the US citizen to step outside.

As she did so, Bowles ambushed her from behind and punched her repeatedly in the face.

The spy believed she was being mugged at first until she saw a glint of light in the blade.

She said Bowles kept coming at her with the knife, saying: "He just wouldn't stop."

As she and her pal attempted to fight the attacker off, Alex Fuentes asked "what's going on" as he came across the horror.

Bowles then hit him in the face as the two women ran towards the reception.

He followed 99230 inside and lunged towards her as blood gushed from the woman's mouth.

She later said: "It felt like he hated me…his focus was me."

The attack only ended when a good Samaritan grabbed Bowles, causing him to drop the knife.

When the witness asked if he was OK, the self-proclaimed "terrorist" said: "No, I've just tried to kill her."

Prosecutor Duncan Penny KC said it was a "pre-meditated, targeted and vicious attack on an unarmed woman".

He added: "The attack which the perpetrator launched was intended to be lethal – that the helpless victim survived it was mere happenstance.

"Her selection as the target for this attack was entirely and solely associated with her role as a US government employee in the National Security Agency of the United States."

Mr Penny said Bowles had described himself as a "terrorist" in the aftermath of the attack.

In a police interview, he said: "The target was selected for her employment at the NSA.

"Due to the size and resourcing, American intelligence represents the largest contributor within the intelligence community so made sense as the symbolic target. I consider GCHQ just as guilty."

Bowles also claimed he had been suffering from mental health issues.  

In a victim impact statement, the spy said that using Bowles' name made her "feel sick" and brought back "awful memories".

She said: "I now know he used to work where I work and I'm devastated by this.

"This attack has had a profound effect on me and it's utterly and completely changed my life.

"I've spend a week in hospital after having emergency surgery. I had never had surgery before in my life and it was very frightening.

"Months later, my wounds are still sore. I instinctively cover my abdomen to protect it. My scars bother me.

"Following the attack I went from being in the best shape I had ever been to being the weakest I have ever been."

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GCHQ is the UK's intelligence, security and cyber agency.

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